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 Montague Island

4-5 February 2017 

Coordinator: Scott Wyatt 

ANUSC Members,

I'm planning a club trip to the South Coast for the weekend 4-5 February.

- Camping: Mystery Bay (Susie and our bear and I are staying in cabins nearby in Mystery Bay)

- Diving: One priority is to try and dive the wreck of the Lady Darling. She sits in roughly 30m in the open ocean south-south-west of Montague Island. The site is very current prone. Some current is expected and normal. Unfortunately, very strong current occurs regularly and would preclude diving the wreck - I'll check the current forecast and we'll then just have to assess on the day too. We tried to dive her last Sunday, but the current was absolutely screaming past, so we did two (very good) dives at Monty instead. Diving the Darling requires a permit, which we have. We cannot anchor on her and a shotline is used, so we dive in shifts. The wreck is historically significant, plus fish and other marine life can be prolific. Other dives would be to Montague Island and Aughinish Reef, depending on conditions. If conditions permit, I'm keen to try Aughinish Reef. Monty was in fine form on Sunday, with grey nurse sharks, seals, a few 'tropical' species, big schools of fish, good vis and 23 degree water temps all the way to 40m.

- Weather / marine forecast: The trip will be cancelled if the forecast is poor. Cancellation could happen as late as a couple of days before if there is a deterioration in the BoM's prognosis. I state the obvious, but the closer one is to any given forecast period, the greater the likelihood of it being accurate. Hence, if I cancel the trip only a couple of days prior, it's not through any malign desire to stuff members around ;-) To give folks a rough indication (pardon the pun), above 15-20 knots and swell above 2m generally means diving's off in my view. Sea state and direction of the weather have to be factored in too.

- I can tow Goat if needed, but have towed for two trips in a row now inc. 2500kms for one, so would be grateful if someone else puts up their hand. Ideally we'd take Tigg too.

- Numbers: Depending on a number of permutations, including whether both boats come or just one, numbers may be capped. I'll try to avoid this, but don't delay in getting back to me if you're keen for this reason.

- Launching: probably through the bar at Narooma. Boatramp's on the north side of the inlet, near the entrance.

- Required experience level: Montague Island dives are suitable for all levels - therefore anyone can come in this trip. The wreck, however, is not suitable for complete beginners due to depth and more importantly, the likely currents. In other words, if you're a novice, you can dive at the island, but not the wreck. Call me if you're unsure.

If interested, please respond (Scott Wyatt) with your name somewhere in subject of reply email and then let me know:

  1. Name and mobile number
  2. Can you tow? Either boat or just Tigg?
  3. Your experience level / number of dives (if we don't know each other)?
  4. Will you want to dive the Darling?
  5. When will you arrive (eg Fri Night / Sat morning)?
  6. Are you a student?
  7. Do you have a boat licence and can you drive one of the boats if needed?
"...This whole section of wreck is completely covered in fixed marine life, sponges, jewel anemones, yellow commensal zoanthids, sea squirts of all colours, gorgonias and giant jelly ascidians cover every square millimetre of the ship. The fishlife has to be seen to be believed. The wreck of the SS Tuggerah in Sydney has the most prolific fishlife of any wreck I have ever seen but the Lady Darling is even more spectacular, with many more species than the Tuggerah. Fish seen include yellowtail, silver sweep, mado, bullseyes, nannygais, leatherjackets of many species, striped morwong and other species. I even saw a few butterflyfish on the wreck in October! There are also huge bailer shells, at least six on the dive I did there..."

"...This is a magnificient wreck, perhaps the best or second best in New South Wales..." Michael McFadyen

Scott Wyatt

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